The pregnancy problem solver: Health edition
If milk does a body good, an expecting gal should be in great shape,what with the rate at which she’s consuming the stuff to build up the bones of two human beings and calm the ring of fire slowly easing its way up her chest. But unfortunately, milk just won’t solve every problem. Here are a few that might require an alternative or two.
Problem: You can’t keep anything down.
Good to know: There’s just no way around it—morning sickness sucks. (Especially since it sometimes lasts all day.) Try easing the quease with known tricks like sucking on ginger drops, noshing on saltines, avoiding an empty stomach, and wearing wrist acupressure bands (the same kind you’d buy for seasickness). If a bland diet and mini-meals don’t work to keep you off your knees, learn how to vomit in style.
Be prepared for emergencies with a sickness kit that includes waterproof disposable bags (such as those from chucktheyuck.com), baby wipes for cleaning up messes, an on-the-go toothbrush and some breath mints. And when the worst happens and you become a victim of public puking, hold your head high and know you’re not the only mom-to-be to suffer this fate. This too shall pass … hopefully by the second trimester.
Bottom line: Know the symptoms, and don’t think you’ll be able to skirt what’s coming: If you feel sick, head for the nearest toilet pronto.
Problem: You’re feeling the burn. Heartburn, that is.
Good to know: Some women are lucky enough to never experience indigestion while expecting. Others are miserable for the entire 40 weeks. There’s no way of telling which category you’ll fall in, even if you’ve had a prior burn-free pregnancy—it’s different for every woman, every time.
While the milk fix often does work here (really!), it often isn’t enough to cure a bad case of heartburn. Your doctor will likely OK an over-the-counter antacid, and you can also adjust your diet to help put out the fire. Avoid carbonated beverages, caffeine, chocolate, and spicy, acidic or fatty foods, as they can all make indigestion even more uncomfortable. You should also sleep at an incline to help keep your stomach acids down where they belong.
Bottom line: Keep an eye on your diet and eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Unless your doctor says otherwise, feel free to go ahead and buy that economy-sized bottle of heartburn relief.
Problem: Hemorrhoids—enough said.
Good to know: Nobody enjoys varicose veins of the rectal variety. In fact, for many moms, the potential for an uncomfortable anal experience evokes heart-stopping fear and anxiety. (Pooping on the delivery table is right up there with hemorrhoids on the please don’t let that happen to me wish list.) ’Rhoids are often caused by constipation or pushing during delivery, although some women get them simply from the increased pressure on the rectum and perineum that comes with carrying a baby.
A warm sitz bath can help with hemorrhoid discomfort, as can witch hazel applied with a cotton pad. Your doctor may also recommend an over-the-counter or prescription medication, which will probably offer the most relief should you find yourself suffering from bulging veins in your backside.
Bottom line: Avoiding constipation might be your only preventative measure. Eat plenty of fruits, veggies and fiber, and don’t be afraid to reach for the prune juice if you get backed up.
Problem: Your ankles are, well, cankles.
Good to know: Pregnancy swelling … it isn’t really so swell, is it? It’s downright uncomfortable, actually. But most women do experience it to some degree, and not only in their ankles, but also in their hands, feet and face (and pretty much all over the place).
All that extra fluid is a necessary evil—your body produces approximately 50 percent more blood and body fluids than normal to meet the needs of your growing babe—but that doesn’t mean you have to let it get you down. To reduce swelling, try to stay off your feet when possible, wear comfortable shoes when on your feet, maintain a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. If swelling is severe, give your doctor a call so he can check it out. While some swelling is normal, too much might be a sign of a more serious problem.
Bottom line: Take it easy and keep your feet propped above your heart while you’re relaxing—especially if you’re in your third trimester during the summer months.
Problem: Your allergies are out of control, and meds are a no-go.
Good to know: A runny or stuffy nose is pretty common during pregnancy, and it might not have anything to do with allergies at all. Rhinitis of pregnancy—which basically just means you’re suffering from congestion for no apparent reason—occurs in about 20 to 30 percent of pregnancies. However, if your nose trouble is accompanied by other symptoms, such as itchy eyes and sneezing, it might be allergy-related after all.
Rely on steam for temporary relief, but make sure you don’t raise your body temperature; a hot bath is off-limits during pregnancy, but a warm one is just fine. At night, plug in a humidifier or vaporizer and keep your head elevated. Saline nose drops can offer additional relief. If you’ve tried it all and you’re still suffering, check with your doc—many will OK a decongestant during the second or third trimester.
Bottom line: Hopefully, your nose-related problems will be nothing more than a mild inconvenience. But if you have aches and pains or a fever with your sniffles and sneezes, call your doctor as you could have a cold or infection.
Problem: You can’t sleep because you’re up peeing all night.
Good to know: There’s a lot of pressure on your bladder these days, so the need to tinkle frequently is understandable—and to some extent unavoidable. However, there are things you can do that will help you sleep longer between bathroom breaks.
While it’s important to drink your 64 ounces of water a day, it’s equally important that you do it before sundown. Killing a glass of water before bed guarantees the need to release it before night is through. Once you’ve finished your final meal of the day, limit liquid consumption to an as-needed basis. And before you hop into bed, use the restroom and lean forward slightly while urinating to help completely empty your bladder. Also, if you feel like you’ve gotta go during the night, just get up and do it—it’s not going to go away, and the quicker you can get it over with, the quicker you can get back to Mr. Sandman.
Bottom line: You can ease your nighttime potty woes, but there are plenty of other things that might be keeping you up. Check out this article for more about sleep problems and solutions during pregnancy.